Karishma woke ungracefully to electronic bells. Her back ached as she sat upright over her desk and fumbled with a stack of empty coffee cups and notecards to find her phone. She meant to turn the alarm off, but her pudgy fingers decided she had hit snooze. At least the bells had stopped. For now.

She decided spending effort to turn the alarm off wasn't worth it and sunk her head back down into her textbook with a soft, frustrated noise. Five more minutes of sleep. That's all she could ask for. Five more minutes...

Midterms were, objectively, the worst.

Five minutes passed far too quickly, but at least she managed to turn the alarm off for good. She reached up to rub her eyes, smudging her glasses in the process. Well, that explained the pain in her temple. Falling asleep in glasses tended to do that. She slid them off and with another low whine she pulled herself upright, stretching weakly in her rolling chair before hobbling to the bathroom. When she returned, it was with a huff more than anything else.

She checked her phone alerts and made a face at her Snapchat—her flatmates didn't have exams until next Thursday and were sending her live updates from a downtown bar's single ladies night. Karma sux xoxo Nila had sent.

Karma had been her nickname since middle school—it seemed more appropriate than 'miracle,' anyway. The only miracle now was how she had managed to get this far into the semester without doing any of her online homework assignments for three different classes, most of which were now due by Monday or Tuesday night. Truly, Karma at its finest.

She reluctantly turned off Snapchat notifications and set her phone down. In high school, she would have been out with them. But now…

When did her Friday nights become so… this?

She reached up to scratch at her tiny nose stud—a permanent reminder of her long-gone party days—and was not even surprised when she felt a notecard stuck to her cheek. She peeled it off with no discernible emotion. A physics equation stared back at her. "Velocity plus wind resistance…?" She flipped it over. Crap. "Acceleration plus wind resistance," she mumbled, setting the card down and burying her head in earnest. Junior year. She had put off physics until junior year. What the hell had she been thinking? "Fffffuck you, physics." She gave the flashcard the middle finger. If it was upset, it didn't show.

The LED lamp was too bright. It was hardly past eight, so the sun couldn't have set long ago, but her nap made it feel like midnight. She considered turning it off but decided against it. She set the alarm for a reason—she needed to finish reading chemistry tonight, at least. It was her first class on Monday and her first exam of the week, and organic chem was finally kicking her ass. Her head spun with long lists of suffixes, prefixes, and chemical shapes and interactions. Aerosols were easy, at least. But alcohols… they shouldn't be as hard as they were. Right?

She stared at the book in front of her, then to the pages of bright green notes to the side. The last line of notes had devolved into a drawing of a frowny face, then a dick with shark teeth eating said frowny face. Well, Monday was going to be fun.

She leaned back and looked to her bed wistfully. Her roommate had dropped out in January when her scholarship ran out; Karma missed her, but now she had the room to herself, and shared the bathroom with two other friends instead of three. Most importantly, she had pushed their two twin beds together into a megabed. It took up a considerable portion of the room and made opening dressers hard but… megabed. Her oversized pillows called out to her, and she only barely resisted the urge to go ahead to sleep for the night. No. She had reserved the night for chemistry, and she was not going to move from her chair until she finished the chapter or it killed her.

Her stomach growled, and she stood up to slink to her fridge. "Well," she mumbled. "Dinner first."

She pulled her second-to-last slice of cold pizza with more than a little regret. She really shouldn't have ordered it in the first place, considering how much it cost versus what little nutrition it offered. But it offered easy calories and a garlic parmesan crust. Maybe… maybe too easy calories, but it sated her stomach as well as her nerves. Nevertheless, she licked her fingers clean with more than a little guilt, frowning down at her stomach.

Karishma had never been little. She never quite lost her baby fat, staying stocky through school, and always liked to eat and cook. What else could she have expected from an Italian mother and Indian father? She was raised on fresh pasta and home baked naan. If anyone expected her to walk away from home with anything short of a waddle, they had never met her parents at all.

She looked back to the fridge with even more guilt. It wasn't that she was eating more now that she was away from home. In fact, she was undoubtedly eating less often now that home cooking was an eighteen hour drive away. But meals now came sporadically if at all, and when she did eat, it was pizza and fries instead of home baked ratatouille. Her freshman fifteen had turned to sophomore thirty, and she didn't want to know what her junior year had done to her. She only knew that her freshman sleeping shirts were now regular, much-tighter-than-she'd-like shirts, and she'd had to upgrade her underwear drawer once and her bras twice since high school. And forget the Jessica Rabbit figure. Karma was fairly certain that whoever came up with "through the lips and onto the hips" had never seen her particular waist

And between the chub, dark taupe skin, and far too many scattered moles? She felt like a twice baked potato with too many eyes.

Maybe you're a cute potato, she told herself. No, she argued back, glumly. Just a baked potato.

She helped herself to the last slice of pizza.

After a quick shower and washing up for bed, her phone flashed again and she smiled at it. It was her goodnight text from her parents, complete with a dozen kiss emojis and a promise of a big dinner once exams were over. She replied back with two dozen emojis and told them she was looking forward to it. Her battery was low, she realized glumly. But her charger was on her bed…

She picked up her textbook with a strained grumble. Nothing was stopping her from reading in bed. She flipped off her desk lamp and flipped on her bed light, settling down and beginning to read again in earnest now that she was comfortable. Reading was easier than listening in class. Books and predetermined words made sense, like chemistry was supposed to. She had nothing against her professors, but… the books were easier sometimes, no matter how much classes were emphasized. Especially in chemistry. She was no longer taking notes, but she reread the chapter with care, trying to remember exceptions and mnemonics with tired eyes. Eventually, she reached her bookmark and decided that the review questions had to wait until tomorrow. It was the weekend, and she was allowed to sleep in. And god was she going to sleep in.

She flipped the lamp off and slipped under her covers, shrugging off the outer blanket in favor of the cool sheet. It was an unseasonably warm March for even Florida, and the dorm was barely hovering around tepid.

She propped her chin against a pillow and scrolled through her twitter feed, too tired to reply to much. She laughed when a page of horrifically bad cartoon porn scrolled by and blushed when she scrolled by something much nicer underneath it. She felt a twitch between her legs at that, and quickly shut off her phone in embarrassment. She wasn't exactly the most sexual person she knew, but… a girl had to eat. Right? "Not that I've been on the menu," she grumbled out loud. She hadn't had a boyfriend since her senior year of high school, when she'd decided men were trash and discovered she could please her own damn self if the need arose. She'd dated a few times since then, but nothing had ever clicked, and no one seemed as interested in her as she was in them.

So, no, she hadn't had sex in a while.


Karma sighed and, once the lights were out, tossed her clothes to the floor. She usually slept naked anyway, but now she was already too hot, even with her hair still damp from the shower. It barely brushed her shoulders, as black in the dark as anything else. She combed a hand through it gently, trying not to undo her loose curls, before sinking back under the covers. She realized glumly that she was damp in other places. God, what one dumb twitter post could do to her. Maybe her friends were right—maybe she did just need to get laid. She thought about reaching for the bullet tucked under her mattress, but… She settled for her hands, gently rubbing her blanket into herself with drowsy circles. It was a gentle pleasure—not much at all—but the warmth and familiarity was soothing, letting her drift easily without needing to finish.

She forgot completely about her exams, chemistry, and charging her dying phone. Sleep overtook her, comforting and soft, and she dreamed about going home to bake and eat a hundred homemade pizzas with her family back at home.

She wouldn't remember her dreams—she never did—but they still came to her, nighttime journeys of both the familiar and unfamiliar. Tonight, they were unfamiliar, but she would never know.

She was so deep in sleep that she didn't hear her window click and slide open. The new breeze slipping around the room didn't stir her, and shortly after, the feeling of a hundred gentle hands roaming over her did nothing but make her hug her sheets tighter. The whispers found their way into her dreams, though, taking the form of happily spilled secrets from her mother and grandmother, and she smiled at them faintly. By then, something had overtaken her, and she slumbered peacefully even as those hundred gentle hands lifted her blanket cocoon from the bed and the breeze turned into a whipping wind around her. She did shiver, and the hands drifted over her face in a dozen soft caresses.

In her dream, Karma was dismayed as a storm blew inside the house, threatening to blow away her family's hard work. She felt her mother and grandmother hold her hands warmly, undisturbed, and seeing them so relaxed lulled her as well. "I'll help you start the bread," she offered, steady even as jars shattered around them.

"You're a lovely girl," her mother said in a voice that was not her own, but it was so warm Karma couldn't help but smile.

"A lovely girl," her grandmother agreed in the same voice. "So lucky to have you. We love you."

"Aw, Nana… I love you too." She grinned at her father as he approached, holding a plate of instantly baked olive bread.

"Our princess," he said in the same voice as the others, and she laughed as they all agreed. The kitchen was in shambles, but her family was smiling back at her and nothing else could matter.

"Our queen," her mother said as she brushed her cheek. "Our queen. Join us."

Karma hugged her, happy to feel her father and grandmother hugging her as well. Homesickness washed through her. "'Course, mom. Dinner's almost ready."

The voices echoed softly around her, their warm praise staying even as her dream drifted, as dreams do, to other scenes. They followed her through classes, through the ocean, and through another scene of baking at home with her mother. Voices she had never heard, but spoke as if they'd always been there, always loved her. Her best friends.

"Welcome home," her mother murmured in that soft, warm voice, and Karma couldn't imagine why she'd ever left.

"Karishmaaaaaaa!" Nila rapped on her flatmate's bathroom door, pissed. "What the fuck, chutiya! Did you seriously sleep through your fucking exam?! Terry said you didn't show!" There was no response. She groaned loudly and leaned on the door. That girl could sleep through an earthquake! Her phone was dead, too. God, if she had missed her midterm because of a dead phone alarm…! "Bitch I'm coming in and you better be dressed!"

The door was unlocked, and she burst in, ready to slap some sense into her friend. But the room was empty. She must have already left. "That dumbass," she muttered, then made a face at the room. "What a mess…" The girl's floor was covered in clothes and papers.

She stopped when she saw Karishma's purse lying next to her bed, right next to her student ID lanyard. What the hell? They needed their ID to get out of the building. And Nila had never even seen her leave the room without her giant ass mom purse, even to pick up pizza at the front desk. Really, what the hell?

Nila's arms prickled as a chill went through her. This was all unlike her. Something was off.

A note card fluttered across the floor, making Nila jump. With a start, she realized the window was wide open and everything on Karishma's desk was soaked through. Nila stared at the mess, mental gears slowly clicking together as she tried to take in in the scene in front of her.

The dorm windows were never opened—it messed with the AC, and there was a two hundred dollar fine if you were caught. Karishma was a square and a stickler for rules—she wouldn't have opened it, wouldn't have opened it all the way, and definitely wouldn't have let four hundred dollars worth of textbooks ruin in the rain all weekend.

Karishma wasn't there. Hadn't been there. She couldn't have even even walked out of the dorm without her ID. And she hadn't opened the window.

...No. Someone else had.

Nila stood there, numb, for far too long. Then, for the first time in her life, she dialed 911. She tried to keep her voice steady, but by the time she hung up, the tears wouldn't stop. She was barely able to call her own parents, and couldn't possibly call Karishma's. What was she going to say? What could she possibly tell them? She couldn't imagine why anyone would be after Karishma—fuck, even her ex had called her too nice to be mad at. What the hell had happened? Was it just bad luck? Had she… had she been hiding something from her?

God, why hadn't she checked on her sooner?!

Nila hadn't prayed in years, but she sobbed as she clutched her phone to her chest and asked any god who would listen to keep her friend safe. Wherever she was.


It's... been a while, huh? I haven't been active on this site in nearly five years. College, high school, and work has happened. It's been a crazy ride to say the least. But I'm back, I think, for better or worse. I can't promise that I won't disappear off of the face of the planet again. So. Heads up, right? But I'm certainly in a much better place now than I was when I left.

I have to give credit to one story in particular for inspiring this particular work: The Princess and the Dragon by MadameLeQueen. It's unfinished, and will probably remain that way, as it's been... about four years since an update. But I'm a damn sucker for anything involving being whisked away to who knows where. And I'm a damn romantic at heart.

This is your early warning that this story will contain mature content. I'm not planning on writing anything gory—not in this story—but there will be (always consensual) sexual content eventually, as well as certain adult themes and language. If that's not your cup of tea, you might want to look somewhere else. Maybe keep an eye out for another story I've been writing a lot of—I hope you like cute demons, in that case. And if you'd rather have a sexy fantasy romance without graphic depictions of smooches+, please let me know. I will also be uploading this story to Ao3, where there will definitely be explicit smooching+. If there's interest in having an M version and an MA version for two different audiences, I'd be happy to try to work something out. Especially since Fictionpress still hasn't updated its position on M vs MA material... even though it hasn't been enforced... ever... as far as I can tell. Not if my recent runs through the fantasy tag have been any indication.

In any case, I'm posting the first six chapters and prologue of this story at once. I have more written, but I'd like to space them out a bit, at least. If you have the time, reviews are always welcome and encouraged.

...Also, Fictionpress has eaten all of my dashes and turned them to hyphens at least twice. I'm aware, and I'm very sorry for the mistakes there. If there's a fix, please let me know.

Thanks, guys. See yall soon.